The hard-ups who don’t have enough money and are struggling to make ends meet always have to battle it out to earn a living. When it comes to the few possessions that they have got, they have to guard it with their lives. If one of their possessions happens to be a conduit for their income, then it becomes all the more precious. To what extent would one go to find a lost property and what can one do if it is not found?
The story of The Bicycle Thief is set in 1948 post-war Italy. However, its theme is applicable even today as it was back then. It is a simple story of a man, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), who has lost his bicycle and needs it to perform his job, that of putting up posters across the streets of Rome. The bicycle was bought after selling his house linen. All this goes down the drain when the bicycle is stolen while he has just started with his job. A distraught man, he starts searching for the thief and his bicycle along with his son, Bruno (Enzo Staiola).
Assisting him are his friends, who look for it in the bicycle market. They look for the parts and hope to find it. However, as a viewer, one knows that it is a fruitless task that they are performing. Among hundreds of bicycle parts how would they be able to find which ones belong to the stolen bicycle?
After a desperate search, finally he and his son are able to locate the man who stole the bicycle. Or they think so. However, he is not sure and hence has to let him go. The movie builds up to a dramatic climax, which moves your soul.
It is a compelling movie providing food for thought. It is not just the loss of the bicycle but the bicycle being the means for his livelihood which drives Ricci to go for a frantic search of the vehicle so that his dream of a better life is not shattered.
The pathos of a man who has lost his source of earning is very well depicted by Vittorio De Sica. The black and white colour of the movie brings out the pain even more so. The acting by both the father and son is moving. If one wants to watch a classic movie, with a universal theme, then The Bicycle Thief has got to be it. It is simple to follow and yet it leaves a mark on the viewer that stays on long after the end credits.